India’s Gujarat state, which is home to some of India’s biggest industrial enterprises, aims to speed up its growth by attracting more foreign investment and providing fresh momentum to the economy.
As part of the growth strategy, the western Indian state is making a pitch to Chinese investors, among others, in order to lure new manufacturing businesses.
Offering a host of incentives, Gujarat — which is the home state of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — is touting one crucial advantage that it has over competitor states in India.
It is this: the state, apart from enabling companies to access India’s huge domestic market, can also be a good gateway for foreign investors who seek to tap consumers in West Asia and Africa.
“Gujarat has emerged as a major investment hub not only in India but in the world,” a senior state government official told EJ Insight recently.
Sanjay Prasad, a principal secretary overseeing Gujarat’s Agriculture and Cooperation Department, said his state will not only serve as an investment hub for Chinese firms and help them grow their businesses, it can also be a gateway to new markets, especially in West Asia and Africa.
“The time and environment is ideal for Chinese companies to set up their businesses in Gujarat and cater to the growing Indian and world markets,” Prasad said during an investment promotion trip to Hong Kong.
In September 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India to meet Modi in the latter’s home state of Gujarat rather than the country’s capital, Delhi.
During the trip, the two leaders sat on a swing at a riverside park and had friendly discussions that culminated in billion-dollar trade deals.
Trade relations between China and India, the two most populous nations on the earth, have entered a new phase since then, but there are still some problems.
Boycott calls on Chinese products
Last month, the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industries (GCCI), which represents 200,000 small and medium-scale business owners, called for a boycott on all varieties of Chinese products.
GCCI president Bipin Patel told media that the presence of Chinese goods in India is hurting local industries.
Apart from economic reasons, the trade body also called for action on the grounds of nationalist sentiments as China was seen as a supporter of Pakistan, which has been blamed for cross-border terror attacks in India.
Asked about the calls for boycott of Chinese goods, Prasad dismissed the media reports, saying they may be giving the wrong impression.
“The media reports don’t really reflect the true picture of strengthening relationship between India and China,” he said.
Prasad pointed out that officials of the Gujarat government visited China last month and signed several memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and over US$5 billion investment proposals.
The Chinese counter-parties include the Liaoning provincial government and firms such as Dynagreen Environmental Protection Group, JCHK Holding Co., Chengdu Xingrong Group, Pacific Construction Group, ZTE Soft Technology Co. and Sinoma Taishan Fiberglass.
“We are working towards the vision of Modi, who wants the two Asian economic powerhouses to work together in a more constructive way to promote the ‘Make in India’ campaign,” said Prasad.
He added that the Gujarat government will ensure that Chinese firms will get the perfect ecosystem and single-window clearance procedures when they invest in the state.
Hong Kong’s role
On Oct. 21, a delegation led by Prasad held a roadshow event “The Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit” in Hong Kong.
“Our delegation’s objective is to strengthen relationship between Hong Kong and India, where Gujarat will play a key role by offering avenues across various sectors to further enhance business relationships between the countries,” said Prasad.
“Hong Kong can play a very major role in the development of Gujarat’s trade and investment,” he said.
Hong Kong can support Gujarat in urban planning and architectural design along with urban transport management systems for the development of smart cities, the official said.
In other comments, he said Hong Kong can share its expertise with start-up entrepreneurs from Gujarat and help them reach global standards in terms of service quality and technology.
Projects that are available for foreign investors in Gujarat include Gujarat International Finance Technology City, Dholera Special Investment Region, Petroleum Chemicals Petro Chemicals Investment Region, and an automobile hub near Ahmedabad, which is Gujarat’s top city.
During the summit, the Gujarat government signed an MoU with the University of Hong Kong (HKU).
Under the agreement, HKU will work in collaboration with the Mahatma Gandhi National Institute of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in Gujarat to implement various educational courses in the western Indian state.
It will also work closely with the Mahatma Gandhi Labour Institute, Ahmedabad, for developing innovation and creativity in work and labor practices.
International certification and equivalence will be provided for courses being conducted in the Industrial Training Institutes in Gujarat.
“Skill development is a key initiative, which Gujarat would like to acquire from Hong Kong. Knowledge sharing between Gujarat and Hong Kong will help service sectors in Gujarat to learn and do business in a more efficient and effective way,” said Prasad.
Gujarat is looking forward to a Hong Kong delegation of government officials and businessmen at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017, he said, referring to the Indian state’s annual mega investment promotion conclave that is scheduled for January 10-13.
– Contact us at [email protected]